Backgrounder – By a special correspondent
On Tuesday, 26 November 2013, early in the afternoon, a peaceful demonstration was held to mark the opening of the OPM (Free Papua Movement) office and to welcome a campaign to taking place in Port Moresby, thee capital of Papua New Guinea, from November 25 until December 1.
The demonstration in Jayapura was organised by the KNPB – National Committee of West Papua. Those taking part gathered in Expo Waena but as they were marching they were blocked by the police who said they has no permission.
However, four days earlier, the co-ordinator of the action, Rocky Medlama had sent notification of the action to the police but they did not acknowledge receipt of the letter, which is what the police often do to deny Papuans the right to freedom of expression. Instead they responded by using violence to remove people in violation of the law.
The organisers had sought to negotiate with the police so that the action could go ahead but the police refusedto allow the action to take place. Those participating in the action decided to give speeches but this was rejected. Instead, the police forcibly dispersed the crowd as result of which there were clashes.
The demonstrators were chased and forced to disperse with the police rounding up activists and ordinary members of the public. The participants tried to protect themselves against the possibility of sustaining brutal attacks, and fled from the area.
The report lists the names of 12 men, all of whom were arrested in their homes, none of whom had taken part in the demonstration. They were all taken from their homes by the police who had refused to allow the demonstrators to proceed with their action.
The 12 men were taken to police headquarters where they were beaten with bayonets, kicked with heavy army boots and struck with ratan and iron bars.
Several sustained injuries in the head, were badly bruised and subjected to electric shocks At no time throughout all these events were they accompanied by lawyers. They faced changes of committing crimes and carrying out acts of public disorder under Article 170 of the Criminal Code.
Late last month, they were all moved to Class IIA Prison in Abepura where they will face charges at a court in Jayapura.
The names of the 12 men are:
Pendius Tabuni, a worker
Karmel Murib, third-grade student at STIKES.
Tomas Mul, schoolboy
Nikolai Waisal, schoolboy.
Penius Tabuni, a worker
Mathius Mabel, coolie
Natan Koyoga, student
Nius Lepi, a worker
Muli Hisage, worker
Agus Togoti, worker
Tinus Meage, worker
Nikson Mui, worker
Here is the account of one of the men of his arrest by one of the men, KARMEL MURIB:
I am student at the high school for health in Sentani, in my second year. I live with my parents and family and attend lectures every day.
I left home at 7am on November 26 and returned home at 12 noon. There wasn’t any food at home so I went out to buy some rice for an meal. Then I went out in the afternoon to see a friend but before I could reach my destination, I was arrested by the police and taken to Expo Waena.
When I arrived there, I was beaten with a rifle butt and kicked, then I was taken to police headquarters along with all the others.I was then subjected to intense interrogation and did not have a lawyer to help me. I could not make any statement because i had not taken part in the demonstration. I was beaten with weapons and given electric shocks.
I was then forced to sign a report which I did not read and could not understand. Along with eleven others, I was declared a suspect and was accused of planning to kill and torture people.
My two Nokia HPs were confiscated along with my shirt.